CSU, News

CSULB students demand to walk the stage

By: Cynthia Mazariegos, Ahrahm Joo and Jaylen Minnich

For the third consecutive year, Long Beach State is holding its graduation ceremony at Angel Stadium without graduates walking the stage or having their names be called.

Many students feel upset as a result of this decision because they want to be recognized for the work they have done to earn their degrees.

Zeina Elrachid, with the support of other students, has started a petition to reach 15,000 votes. The petition is meant to push the university to allow students to have their traditional ceremony.

The commencement petition can be found on change.org. After signing it, students can either share it with others or donate $11 for the petition to be distributed. Flyers to the QR code can also be found on campus walls, which takes student directly to the petition when they scan the code.

“Communication from the university hasn’t been really clear, so there are a lot of potential unknowns,” said Elrachid.

In the past, Long Beach State students have voiced their dislike over how the graduation ceremony has changed.

Cait Johnson, a CSULB 2021 alumna, said their class graduation experience was less than ideal.

“When I heard they weren’t allowing us to walk on stage, I decided not to go to the ceremony,” Johnson said. “Instead, I went to the mini-stages in the parking lot and ‘walked’ there in my cap and gown. It was kind of sad.

“It sucks because they just don’t want a long ceremony. I hope they do better this year because it spoils the hard work [the students do].”

This year is no different, with a petition that demands that graduates walk and have their names called during the main ceremony.

CSULB plans to host its graduation ceremony at Angel Stadium in Anaheim for the third year in a row.
CSULB plans to host its graduation ceremony at Angel Stadium in Anaheim for the third year in a row. Photo credit: Renzo Pocasangre

“We are really not trying to push for anything that is excessive,” said Elrachid. “We just want the traditional walk across the stage, shake administrators’ hands and let our families see us and hear our names.”

Elrachid is a molecular cell biology and physiology major. She said that on a discord server for her graduating Biology major seminar, she and other students were discussing graduation. Another student mentioned that they would not walk the stage.

Elrachid said students were confused because they didn’t know the reason behind why the university would not let them walk the stage.

She said that it first started with student complaints, but one day in the library she started thinking about what could be done.

Elrachid designed petition flyers and showed the other students, and they liked the idea. Through more planning, the petition started.

There are over 15,000 signatures since March 18.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, CSULB held its ceremony on campus with students having their names called and walking across a stage.

CSULB claims that they can’t make these changes due to logistical difficulties. The college also claimed in a statement that the commencement was well-received for the 2021 and 2022 graduation commencement.

Some surrounding colleges, such as CSU Los Angeles and UCLA, have returned to traditional graduation ceremonies.

At UCLA, instead of each school planning its graduation, each department hosts its individual commencement in different parts of campus.

“We’ve just been through so much as a student body,” said Elrachid. “I personally really want my family to watch me walk across the stage…my parents are both immigrants, and I’m the first one to own a degree in the stem.”

For now, the ceremony will begin with the college faculty walking into the stadium. After CSULB President Jane Close Conoley and university leadership will enter the stadium. Students will step in and be recorded while walking to their seats.

Students will be seated with other graduates, not with family or friends. The guests will be asked to sit in the stadium and will have a view of the stage.

There will be speeches from President Conoley, executive team members, prominent guests, students and it will end with the department’s degree conferrals.

Graduate recognition stages will be outside the home plate, allowing students to celebrate with friends, families and other guests. Students can walk onto a stage to take pictures as their name is announced before a custom-created slide, including name, major, photo, quote and degrees.

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